About Scala

An academic initiative that aims to strengthen classical liberal arts education and promote authentic human wellbeing

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Our Mission

Although core questions about human existence were part of a classical education, today many students struggle to connect their classroom experiences to ultimate concerns such as questions of moral truth, the common good, and virtue. Gaining wisdom, deepening faith, developing virtues, and building friendships have been separated from acquiring knowledge. Without a passion for truth and an intimate community of peers, intellectual pursuits may not lead to flourishing lives and thriving communities. This is why Scala aims to:

Model how a challenging learning environment can take place in an atmosphere of hospitality

Explore the philosophical assumptions behind what students are learning

Promote virtues such as thoroughness, intellectual courage, and creative thinking

Why Scala?

Scala is the Latin word for ladder.

The two sides of a ladder symbolize the need for balance between body and soul.

The steps of the ladder represent that we ascend to excellence while also descending in humility.

A ladder also symbolizes that being well-rooted in community life holds us steady as we climb to contemplate eternal truths.

“Students with diverse backgrounds illuminate important angles to any given question. Guest speakers share intriguing insights, wrangle with difficult questions, and foster intellectually and spiritually constructive conversations. Being situated in a home encourages the pursuit of these questions in greater depth with students and speakers alike…In all of this, Scala provides a place to re-learn how to nurture Christian community.

— Chikara S., Princeton Theological Seminary

Having a full view of human personhood, encountering people in our programs of study and personal vocation as people according to that definition as we understand it through the Christian tradition and through many of these texts, is essential to and allows us to overcome such challenges in the small, meaningful ways that amount to constructive change.”

— He Y., Yale Divinity School

“I feel empowered as an individual, having met a group of graduate students endeavoring to live a flourishing academic and personal life who understand that the two cannot be divorced. Meeting them, and knowing that the conversations have only just begun, has shifted my perspective considerably.”

— Renae W., Baylor University

“This program has exceeded my expectation and has given me direction as a potential educator for the first time while providing opportunities for deep spiritual reflection.”

— John A., Columbia Law School

“The image of the ladder in Scala’s logo captures its vision: we have to climb the ladder to contemplate the good life, but we also have put our feet on the ground and actually live it. We often talk about how to integrate faith and learning, contemplation and action, but the shared activities at Scala allow us to bond as a group and form deep friendships. With Professor Mooney’s guidance, we actually get us to start living the good life.”

— Elly B., Princeton University

Who We Are

Board of Trustees

Renzo Canetta, MD


Margarita Mooney, PhD

Founder & Executive Director 

Neda Cvijetic, PhD


Academic Advisory Committee

Hank Edmondson, PhD

Professor of Government, Georgia College

James B. Murphy, PhD

Professor of Government, Dartmouth College

Ana Cecilia Fieler, PhD

Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Pennsylvania

Thomas Joseph White, PhD

Director, Thomistic Institute, Dominican House of Studies

Roosevelt Montás, PhD

Director, Center for Core Curriculum, Columbia College

Frederick Simmons, PhD

Research Scholar, Princeton Theological Seminary

Pete Peterson

Dean, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy 

John Inazu, JD, PhD

Professor of Law and Religion, Washington University in St. Louis

Carlo Lancellotti, PhD

Professor of Mathematics, College of Staten Island and the City University of New York

Maria E. Moreyra Garlock, PhD

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University

Student Assistants 

Michael Paul Cartledge

Communications Manager 

Bess Blackburn

Media Manager 

Daniel Gorenberg

Events and Development Assistant

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